Despite being in bankruptcy and looking for a new owner, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed slugger Matt Kemp to a new eight-year contract worth $160 million. The deal had been speculated over the weekend and Dodger owner Frank McCourt gave the go ahead yesterday to seal the deal.
Strong Bid for League M.V.P.
The L.A. Times broke the announcement earlier today. Kemp along with fellow All-Star Clayton Kershaw have been bright spots in what has been a tough year for McCourt and the Dodgers. The coup de gras will be if Kershaw receives the National League Cy Young award as the best pitcher, and if Kemp will nab the league's Most Valuable Player award (M.V.P.). The Cy Young award will be announced Thursday and the M.V.P. will follow this coming Monday. Both players put up very impressive numbers, and most fans feel sportswriters better have a solid explanation or justification if the two stars are not named to the respective awards.
Lopes Is Credited with Turn-Around
Kemp's new contract, negotiated by his agent, former Dodger David "Smoke" Stewart, puts him on top of the pack. He now boasts the highest contract paid to a National League player. The eight-year deal is good for Matt Kemp and a good investment for the Dodgers. Kemp is one of few home-grown players who have a legitimate shot of becoming a league superstar. 2010 was a so-so year, yet the team showed patience as he worked out his relationship issues with singer Rihanna.
Entering the 2011 season with a new focus on baseball and minus Rihanna, he embraced All Star and former Dodger Davey Lopes to help him develop into the type of player many felt he was capable of becoming. During their playing days both Stewart and Lopes enjoyed a lasting friendship, so it was a natural for Lopes to see if he could help out his buddy. For that to happen the Dodgers had to pry Lopes from the Philadelphia Phillies coaching staff. The rest is history as many have credited Lopes's tutelage in helping Kemp achieve a stellar season and set the foundation to increase his productivity in years to come. In addition to making the All Star team for the first time, Kemp came within a whisker of achieving the coveted triple crown (home runs, hits and runs batted in) as well as the 40/40 mark (home runs/stolen bases). (see complete 2011 stats)
With limited resources, the Dodgers announcement of Kemp's contract ends any rumor of them bidding for the services of free agents, Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder.
3 Times Pay of 2010 Season
The pressure will be on Matt Kemp to deliver. That includes being the leader, being one of the key faces of the team and putting up numbers worthy of the contract. The payday provides him a nice incentive as he will be making nearly three times what he made this past year, which was just above $7 million.
Photo courtesy of Cbl62, Wikimedia